On 24 May 2018, the Ministry of Manpower (“MOM”) charged an employment agency licensee, 35-year-old Khor Siew Tiang (“Khor”), who is also the sole proprietor of Vista Employment Services, for breaching employment agency (“EA”) licence conditions. She failed to ensure that a foreign domestic worker (“FDW”) meets the minimum age requirement of 23 years old.
The MOM has also charged another EA, Casa Employment Specialist Pte Ltd (“Casa”), for the same offence today.
The breach is an offence under Section 23 (5) of the Employment Agencies Act (“EAA”). If convicted, the offender can be fined up to $5,000 or up to six months’ imprisonment or to both. On top of the court-imposed penalties, MOM can also revoke the EA licence and forfeit the security deposit. Both EAs have been served with notices of licence suspension.
About the Case
Investigations revealed that between June and July 2017, Khor and Casa failed to ensure that two Myanmese FDWs meet the minimum age requirement. They were detected at the MOM Services Centre where they subsequently disclosed their actual age as 13 years old when interviewed by MOM officers.
Both FDWs’ applications to work locally were revoked, with MOM issuing directions for Khor and Casa to send the two underage FDWs back to their home country. The Myanmar Embassy has also been informed.
Both underage FDWs have been barred from seeking employment in Singapore.
The cases against Khor and Casa have been adjourned to 14 June 2018 for a Further Mention.
Multi-pronged Approach to Address Issue of Underage FDWs
FDW-placing EAs are regularly reminded by MOM through our electronic circulars to exercise their duty of care towards their clients, and take additional steps (Annex) to verify the age of FDWs.
Additionally, FDWs are notified prior to their arrival, of Singapore’s entry requirements through the In-Principle Approval letter in their native language. Upon arrival, all first-time FDWs are required to attend the mandatory Settling-In Programme (SIP) and will be informed of the consequences if they are found to be underage. Detection of underage FDWs also takes place at the SIP training centre and at the MOM Services Centre.
Responsibility of EAs to Ensure FDWs Meet Entry Requirements
All EAs have a legal responsibility to ensure that the FDWs they bring into Singapore for deployment to households meet all prevailing entry requirements. MOM takes a serious view of EAs who fail in the discharge of their duty of care towards their clients. Errant EAs face a range of penalties, from imposition of demerit points and licence suspension, to prosecution and licence revocation for egregious cases. These offenders will also be permanently barred from conducting business in the EA industry.
In the last three years, MOM has taken enforcement action against 98 EAs for failing to ensure that the FDWs, who came to Singapore for work through their agencies, met the age requirement.
We urge employers to be vigilant in their selection of FDWs. They should clarify with their EAs if they have doubts of workers’ age or other credentials. An FDW requires the maturity and ability to cope with work and stress, or she may not be able to care for the young and/or old placed under their charge. If employers suspect that an FDW recommended by an EA is not at least 23 years old, they should not engage the EA’s services and report the EA to MOM.
Members of the public who are aware of any individuals or EAs that are operating in violation of the EAA should report the matter to MOM at Tel: (65) 6438 5122 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. All information will be kept strictly confidential.